What Do Arbor Day, The Chisholm Trail and Indiana Jones Share?

It is well known that Wichita is a frequent stop for the actor Harrison Ford, who has endeared himself to us as Star Wars, Han Solo and Dr. Indiana Jones.  But why Wichita? And what has this to do with the Chisholm Trail?
First, Wichita is the home to Cessna, Beechcraft and Hawker-Learjet and their presence come along with their Flight Safety counterparts who provide recurrent training for pilots and mechanics.  Since Mr. Ford is a pilot in real life and the FAA has no special exceptions, even Han Solo must report for training!
But, who is the “real” Indiana Jones?  You might be surprised to find out!  Read on to discover how real Dr. Jones, Arbor Day and The Chisholm Trail converge, you guessed it, in Wichita.
The Real Indiana Jones, A Trail, And A Tree
Recently, these three unrelated topics:  Arbor Day, The Chisholm Trail and Indiana Jones, converged at an event sponsored by The Northfield School Of the Liberal Arts, where my husband teaches geometry.  Its’ platform was a picnic luncheon to celebrate National Arbor Day.
The Chisholm Trail Landmark Tree WIchita, Kansas

Here in Wichita, there is a unique location from which to celebrate this day: The Landmark Mulberry Tree.  This 200-year old tree served as a marker along the Chisholm trail for Native Americans, cowboys  as they  herded cattle and travelers heading west.

It stands today on the lawn of the Kansas Masonic Home, not far from the school, and, with permission, Northfield has had a picnic lunch there for several years.  Never missing a teachable moment, the lunch includes presentations of readings and musical compositions, some original, from the student body.

This year featured two specific additions.  The first, a handmade podium carved from, yes, a single tree trunk, by the father of one of the students.  Northfield is a very special place.

Dr. Jones Has A Family Tree Too!
The second was a particularly special speaker, the grandson of the founder of Wichita itself, J.R. Mead.  His grandson, Dr. Schuyler Jones, is said to be the real Indiana Jones.  A native of Wichita, KS, he retired from Oxford University, England as Director of the Pitt Rivers Museum of anthropology and world archaeology.  He carried out much of his research in Afghanistan.  His resume definitely could have informed the Dr. Jones of cinema!
This day, though, he spoke about his grandfather Mead’s Wichita.  The early days, when the Chisholm Trail was main street and the now 200 year old mulberry tree was half its age.  The details are contained in one of several books he has written:  Hunting and Trading On The Great Plains.  My reading list is getting longer….
As we sat enjoying the cool day and homemade buffet lunch, I could sense the confluence of time, geography and persona.  If that tree could talk.  Seriously.  The things it has witnessed and been a part of.  Yet, here it stands, older than anyone alive today collecting stories we can only imagine.  As a collector of stories, would that it could share some of the tales it has stored up!
Is there an occasion where you have sensed the convergence of seeming unrelated subjects?  Please share those combinations with us in the comments below.
And oh yes, belated Happy Arbor Day!

I am a former air traffic controller, pilot, Aircoupe owner, married 42 years to a great guy. We live in a 125+ year old historic Victorian, enjoy cats, vintage anything, precious friends. My passion is Giving Lost Stories A Voice – Giving Found Materials Fresh Form and Purpose!

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